Eight years ago today, a known white supremacist walked into a gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and shot and killed Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Paramjit Kaur, Suveg Singh, and Satwant Singh Kaleka. Baba Punjab Singh, who was shot that same day, died this past March from complications from the bullet wound. He was 72. In their wake, they leave families, friends, and communities who live with their absence every day.
We honor their lives and acknowledge the continued violence aimed at Sikh communities in the U.S.. Of all reported hate violence incidents impacting South Asians in 2020 alone, the majority were directed at Sikhs.
These seven lives were cut short because of the violent reality of white supremacy. And while one individual may have pulled the trigger that day, this country’s long and recent history of white supremacist policies and rhetoric fueled his actions. The deeply seeded white supremacist and anti-immigrant actions of this Administration cannot be separated from the actions of the violent white nationalist gunman who targeted Latinx individuals in an El Paso Walmart one year ago, ultimately killing 23 people.
Today also marks one year since Kashmiris were stripped of their semiautonomous status, and the Hindutva led government of India imposed a brutal blockade. Since then, we’ve seen an escalation of Hindu supremacist fueled hate violence that has led to more lives lost, more families separated, and more people indefinitely detained. This hate is transcending borders. Case in point — the ad in Times Square today that has met enormous resistance from coalition organizers.
From white supremacy to Hindu nationalism, all of these lives have been dehumanized and taken because of state-sanctioned policies that justify this violence. This means that our actions must include challenging public officials, overturning policies, and understanding the transnational connections impacting our communities across borders.
We’ve been encouraged to see so many community members become involved in the fight against hate violence and police violence, following an unprecedented level of public protest in the U.S.. We have to keep going. Here and here are some ways you can get involved.
We send our love to our Sikh family and all survivors of hate violence on this extremely difficult day, and fortify our commitment to “Chardi Kala” as we fight for justice.
The SAALT Team